Dana NEACȘU – America la noi acasă

Dana Neacşu 2Eavesdropping More or Less

Skiing as a solitary state of mind is best suited for those of us who enjoy the company of thoughts. Most ski time, though, is spent on ski lifts in the company of strangers. Here are a few memorable moments.

  1. Sitting next to a ski instructor and his private clients, a brother and a sister younger than ten, right before Christmas:

“What do you want for Christmas,” the instructor asked them.

“I love Chelsea stadium so much; I hope to own Chelsea stadium.”

“I want a charm bracelet.”

“Dad told me I could be the administrator of the stadium. I do want to own it. I love it so much,” the brother emphasized.

“I want a charm bracelet,” continued the sister.

  1. Joining a couple of male friends, one older than the other, although neither of them were that young to start with.

“I usually charge people who join us on the chair lift,” the really older man joked looking at me, “but I am going to waive it because you are such a pretty lady.”

“I charge too,” I replied, “in quiet time until we reach the top of the mountain.”

“Where are you from?”

“New York.”

“I was in New York in 1956, for an entire summer, and my employer offered me a raise if I gave up the idea of going to graduate school.” No one asked anything, so the dean of the chair lift continued, “Not a nice thing to do, though he was the only one in attendance when I married my sweetheart a St Patrick’s.” Quiet. “I did choose to go to Yale.”

“What did you study at Yale?” I asked,finally.


“Thank God you don’t belong to the bunch of Chicago idiots who destroyed the economy with ‘trickle down economics.”

“I did study at Chicago too, and…”

“Oh,” I interrupted, amused, looking at the man sitting between me and the older guy to see if physical reprisal was possible or not. The man my age smiled encouragingly, and I obliged. “I guess I spoke too early.”

“There is nothing else except free market. Did you know that the poor today live better than the English aristocracy did in the Middle Ages.”

“The Middle Ages? That’s your standard?” I burst out into laughs.

“Better than the aristocracy and the King of England.”

“You are talking about the bubonic plague era, correct?”

“What do you do for a living?”

“I work at Columbia. I teach legal research.”

“What research?”

“Legal research. I have a PhD in journalism.”

“I have a good friend at Columbia. A Nobel Prize laureate. Robert Merton. You must know him.”

“I have heard of him, but I am not familiar with his work.”

“We meet in Sienna every July and talk about economics in a castle there.”

“Isn’t Tuscany beautiful in the summer?”

“What other systemthan the free marketis there? Planned economy? What Russia, Cuba, China?”

“As you probably know Cuba did not have a chance with the US embargo dwarfing its development. And the US also invaded Russia right after the revolution legitimizing the paranoia which soon took over their country. They were not allowed to develop. They were forced to react to a state of war the West imposed on them.”

“What about China?”

“What about China? China is a mess, and a capitalist mess.”

“What percentage of the 1990s poor is still poor in the US?”

“I don’t know; all of them?”

“Thirteen percent.”

“That does not tell me anything. Numbers, abstract numbers don’t tell me anything. Look at their life style. Health care is not affordable. Public education is so unsubstantial that it creates a mass of uneducated people destined to grow up with no hopes to better themselves. So, you should use life style rather than cold abstract numbers to tell a relevant story, and here we are on top of the mountain: Merry Christmas.”

  1. The chair to Seventh Heaven is indeed the most scenic chair on Blackcomb Mountain.
dana_neacsu_70_1 The runs are accessible for both intermediate and beginner levels. Three younger men are sitting next to me.

“Where’re you going?” a skier asked the snowboarder.

“I need to meet Jordan.”


“After ten years I cannot make her turn smoothly.”

“Maybe it is time to have her take a lesson or two.”

“I don’t know, but if in ten years you cannot learn how to turn, maybe she does not want to learn how to board,” the other skier interjected.

“You saying?” the boarder smirked.

“Maybe it’s time to face whatever you need to face.”

“Which is?”

“Join us. We are going to have some powder on Cloud Nine.”

The boarder’s phone rang. It was Jordan. Shetold her partner she had to change her plans, and he was free to have fun with his friends. The snowboarder smiled. His friends were happy, and we all wished each other a happy 2016, if you want to believe it happened like that.

DANA  NEACȘU este doctor în filosofie, lector de drept la COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL, din New York, profesor adjunct la BARNARD COLLEGE – Columbia University, dar și dâmbovițeană de pe malurile Ialomiței…